PST Files + File Server = Dead File Server

Time to set off!!!I’ve had this discussion a few times recently myself. Storing a PST file on a file server is NOT a good idea.

Microsoft don’t really do anything to indicate to the end user that this might not be a good idea, but they certainly have made it known in the technical community for a long time. For some reason people haven’t picked up on this fact.

The Enterprise Platforms Windows Server Performance Team decided it was time to revisit it too.

At least once a week, someone on the Performance team will get a customer call concerning hangs or resource depletion on their file server.  The file server in question is used for user home folder storage and users are accessing Outlook Personal Storage (.pst) files stored on the server from their client.  The issue will manifest as either a server hang, or PagedPool depletion (Event ID 2020).  Oftentimes the issue will occur first thing in the morning – when users are logging on and launching Outlook.  In especially severe cases, the issue occurs several times daily.  Sometimes the server will hang for a few minutes and then continue operating for a few minutes – and then hang again.  Rinse & repeat.  The users are frustrated because of slow access to their data, the server administrators are frustrated because they are tasked with fixing the problem, and upper management is frustrated because everyone else is frustrated.

They have a load more technical information which explains why it isn’t a good idea.

In short, don’t do it.

The challenge I have for Microsoft, though, is this. Can you help System Administrators out here please? There is nothing in the Outlook UI to tell the end user that it’s a bad idea. Once they have been created there are no tools to help you move the PST somewhere else while maintaining an end-user’s access to the data. You don’t provide any tools to protect the server (by providing blocking of .pst files for instance). The policies for Outlook only allow you to stop people creating PST files altogether, but you might still want them to have PST’s just not on the file server.

Having a policy with no tools to support it is a bit lame. Remember people think that the machines are in control, if the machine doesn’t stop them, then it’s OK.

 

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2 thoughts on “PST Files + File Server = Dead File Server”

  1. Given that outlook, by default, nags users to create PST files (do you want archive it?) and for many years, system admins have in my experience nagged users not to store stuff on their local PC unless they want to lose it, is it any surprise that users store PSTs on file servers (other than the inherent surprise in people doing what they’re told)?

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